Pioneering project seeks to improve community care

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A PIONEERING project to improve care for patients in the community has begun in Bognor Regis.

The town is one of two areas in the Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys community health care, to be chosen for the launch of the proactive care teams.

Roger Wood, Arun District Council’s head of neighbourhoods, said each team would serve areas of about 30,000 people, covering all elements of a patient’s care.

Every patient will also be assigned a care co-ordinator who will help them navigate the system.

“The integrated teams allow health professionals to co-ordinate patient care on a daily basis between themselves, thereby reducing delays from referral processes and freeing up clinical time,” said Mr Wood.

The committee heard further development of proactive care would include out of hours care, supporting discharge arrangements and developing the role of wellbeing teams.

But committee member Barbara Oakley (C, Middleton) said she doubted if the scheme would live up to its rhetoric.

“I support the importance of joined-up care and everyone coming together to provide a care package for one person,” she said.

“I’m sure it’s brilliant and there are lots and lots of lovely meetings which come up with a wonderful care package.

“But who will implement the package and who will pay for it. The cost of it is very high indeed.”

Rod Smith, the commissioning group’s chief financial officer, said more than 100 patients were being handled by the teams in the Bognor, Rustington and East Preston areas.

“Proactive care brings together health and social care to support people with complex health needs and their carers.

“It’s about how we can work more effectively in serving the needs of that population.

“This is about them receiving the best joined up care and treatment in the most appropriate setting.

“That is likely to be at home rather than in hospital,” he told Arun District Council’s overview select committee’s latest meeting last Tuesday.

He said the main provider of the care was the Sussex Community NHS Trust.

The trust would 
have responsibility for ensuring staff numbers were adequate.

A lot of the initial funding for the project will come from West Sussex County Council but there will still be challenges in ensuring enough long-term funding can be provided, Mr Smith added.